Warning: Contains spoilers for The Nun.
Like the other spin-offs, The Nun is a prequel to the main Conjuring franchise, expanding on a character we first glimpsed through our fingers in The Conjuring 2. This means it needs to be shuffled into the current timeline, like a cursed card being folded into a haunted deck.
But, be warned, if you do want to watch these movies in the proper chronological order, it’s going to get complicated. Allow us to explain.
The Nun (2018) – 1952 / 1971
The Nun is set in 1952 and, thankfully, stays there for the majority of its running time as Catholic priest Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and nun in training Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) investigate the suicide of a nun at a convent in Romania, unaware it’s linked to the demon Valak.
However, then the very final scene of the movie skips ahead to 1971 and a scene we saw in The Conjuring, so if you wanted to watch the whole series chronologically, you’d actually have to stop The Nun here and watch this scene at the exact same time it occurs in The Conjuring.
Annabelle: Creation (2017) – 1943 / 1952 / 1955 / 1967
It expands on how the evil doll we first saw in James Wan’s original movie came to be possessed, starting out with a car accident in 1943, before moving into an orphanage in 1955, where it gets REALLY good. Seriously, if you passed on this one because Annabelle was so bad, you’re missing out on a treat.
But if you really want to see these movies chronologically, you actually need to watch the beginning of this movie, before switching to the post-credits scene as that’s a teaser for The Nun, set in 1952.
Then you can watch the majority of The Nun, before switching back to Annabelle: Creation, all the way through to its coda in 1967.
Annabelle (2014) – 1967
You can now get through Annabelle, which sees the creepy doll making its first movements into the realm of the damned. Unfortunately, this is definitely the worst of the series – but watching it right after Creation does improve it somewhat. Man, that film is awesome.
The Conjuring (2013) – 1971
Now we finally get to the first movie in the series, which is also arguably the best. James Wan leant into his influences for The Conjuring, updating movies such as The Changeling and Burnt Offerings for a modern generation.
As with those movies, the terrifying events take place in the ’70s, specifically 1971 as Ed and Lorraine Warren helping out a large family who have moved into a haunted farmhouse. It’s based on a “true” story, if you believe ghosts and farmhouses are real (farmhouses probably are real, to be honest).
The Conjuring 2 (2016) – 1976 / 1977
Another movie that’s based on a true story – if you think that ghosts making people levitate is more likely than a teenager jumping off a bed.
The Conjuring 2 saw the Warrens investigate the Amityville house in 1976, before moving on to a case in the UK in 1977, which we knew as the Enfield Hauntings, which is where the potential bed-jumping shenanigans took place.
Throwing in the aforementioned Nun for good measure, as well as a creepy dude known as The Crooked Man (who’s getting his own movie too, what is this, The Avengers?) The Conjuring 2 marked a turning point for the franchise, where it really started to become the MCU of horror movies.
The Crooked Man doesn’t have a release date yet, but as it’ll be inspired by an old nursery rhyme (first published in 1842), your guess is as good as ours in terms of when it’ll be set.
The Nun is out in cinemas now. Book tickets here.